Monday, March 31, 2008

What Were They Smoking?

So while watching Dancing with The Stars this week, I was left wondering, "What the hell were the judges smoking?"

Case in point: Shannon Elizabeth. Now I liked her the previous two weeks, but the dance this week was just a mess from my perspective. It was not precise. It looked like she was lost half the time and that her partner was dragging her back to a routine that might have been too difficult for her. Plus... is she a heavy smoker or does she just never do any cardio?

Now, Shannon Elizabeth was complaining that its hard because her legs are so long. Well she is 5'9" according to Well, Stacey Keibler is 5'11". Here is what her dance looked like:

Doesn't look like her long legs were causing her any problems.

And then Carrie went and called Adam Carolla sexy. My ears are still bleeding.

Then to top it all off, they went after Winokur like she was the anti-christ! Excuse me, where is the fairness in the way she was treated as compared to the way they have treated Marlee Maitlin last week. Of course, as Mrs. AngryBell pointed out, this could have been spillover from last season when Tony handed Carrie the rules on lifts so....

All that's left to be said is Mark Ballas has the same problem as last year: another partner who goes exactly where he tells her to, when he wants her to. Now as I'm sure Karina Smirnoff will tell him, that's just a terrible problem to have. Now all he has to worry about is that Edyta won't be able to finish her project in Jason Taylor.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another Reason to Hate Wal-Mart

As if Wal-Mart did not give a person enough reasons to hate them, they have managed to find a new low. They sued one of their former employees by the name of Debbie Shank.

Did this employee do something wrong? Did she steal from a store? Embezzle? Maybe even leak some of their employment practices?

No, she had the misfortune of doing two things. First, she signed up for the Wal-Mart employee health plan. Second, she was the innocent party in a traffic accident which left her brain damaged.

Left brain damaged and unable to work, she was able to sue the driver who was responsible for the accident. After collecting nearly $1 million at trial, she was left with approximately $417,000 after taxes, attorneys fees, and costs. That $417,000 was placed into a trust so that she could be cared for since she was no longer able to effectively care for herself. She now needs 24 hour care and is living in nursing home.

Then Wal-Mart stepped up. Or rather down. They decided to enforce a portion of her employee health plan. This plan states that Wal-Mart can seek reimbursement for money laid by the plan if the employee later receives a recovery in a lawsuit. The total medical bills came to $470,000.

Wal-Mart, being the lovely people that they are, has since sued for the entire $470,000 dollars. Because of the fine print of the plan, they have won. And are now seeking to recover all of the money.

Nice to see that a multi-million corporation has the heart to force a profoundly disabled person to repay them money that they actually need. Remember that the next time you shop there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Something Is Seriously Wrong Here

So a person buys some property. They then do renovations to the property. They finish the renovations, which have improved the property's value. Yet the property tax people give this person a reduction and a refund?

Apparently this just happened in San Mateo county with Larry Ellison. He bought some property. He turned it into a replica of a 16th Century Japanese palace. Then, when it was completed, he had his attorney go to the tax appeals board for the county and seek a reduction because it is "functionally obsolete". So the tax appeals board granted an approximate 60% reduction in the value of the property from $166.3 million (which was low to begin with it seems) to $64.7 million.

Of course, I would like to know how a piece of property which has been renovated in the last three years can be functionally obsolete when it has the following:
an approximate 8,000-square-foot main house a guest home, three cottages, a gymnasium, a 5-acre man-made lake, two waterfalls, two bridges; Hundreds of mature cherry, maple and other trees were planted among nearly 1,000 redwoods, pines and oaks.

Apparently, because he built such a unique home, he is now claiming that no one could possibly want to buy it on the market. Therefore, because he chose to act this way, he should reap the benefit.

Does this sound right to anyone else? I suppose $25 billion isn't enough of a cushion for this guy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why Not Just Say That Tenants Have No Rights

Lately, things have not been going well for tenants up on appeal. First, there was last year's Action Apartment decision (Action Apartments v. City of Santa Monica, (2008) 41 Cal.4th 1232). Now comes the First District Court of Appeal in the case of 1100 Park Lane Associates v. Feldman.

Action Apartments was the culmination of what I believe is the law of unintended consequences. In the 1980s, corporations or people started to sue people for protesting certain practices. These types of suits became known as SLAPP suits. Essentially, certain parties were using the courts to restrict people's speech by forcing them to litigate the cases. In response to the rise of SLAPP suits, the California legislature passed a law which is now section 425.16 of California's Code of Civil Procedure, an anti-SLAPP statute.

Section 425.16 allows a part defending against a complaint or cross-complaint to file a motion. If the motion is successful, it terminates the case. The court, when considering an anti-SLAPP motion decides two things. First, it determines whether the activity challenged by the complaint is a protected activity. Second, the court determines whether the plaintiff (or cross-complainant) has a probability of prevailing in the law suit. If the plaintiff loses, they could also be responsible for attorneys fees. If the defendant loses their anti-SLAPP motion, they can appeal it immediately. While the case is up on appeal, the case is stayed.

Now, the basic idea is good. However, at least in the case of landlord tenant law, it is effectively stripping tenants of their rights. In Action Apartments, the California Supreme Court held that serving a notice to quit, the document needed to initiate an eviction action, on a tenant is a protected activity covered by the litigation privilege. Essentially, what this boiled down to is that the court found that if a landlord served a notice to quit, a tenant could not later sue the landlord for wrongful eviction based on the notice to quit.

Action Apartments made things harder for tenants. However, the opinion seemed to leave open some ways for tenants who had been wrongfully evicted by their landlords to seek redress. Then came the decision in 1100 Park Lane Associates v. Feldman.

In Feldman, the landlord 1100 Park Lane Associates LLC (of whom some of the members are Walter Lembi (of the CitiApartment/Skyline Realty Lembi family) and Andrew Hawkins) leased an apartment to Peter Levi. Mr. Levi had sub-tenants, Konrad Feldman and Jennifer Foote-Feldman, who were approved by agents of the 1100 Park Lane. A month after they moved in, and after they had been told that they had done everything necessary in order to be approved sub-tenants on the premises, they were contacted by the landlord. As the appellate court's opinion states, "

On June 2, 2005, the Feldmans received notice from Andrew Hawkins, who identified himself as the "trouble shooter" for the owner of the apartments, that their sublease application had not been approved and they were in possession of the premises unlawfully. Although the Feldmans showed Hawkins their documentation from Seigel, Hawkins insisted that they were unapproved occupants and that they would either have to leave or pay "market rent" for the premises, estimated to be over $2,000 more per month than the monthly rental the Feldmans were paying under the sublease.

When the Feldman's would not agree to the rate increase, Park Lane initiated an unlawful detainer by serving a three day notice and then filed a complaint with the San Francisco Superior Court. The unlawful detainer alleged that the eviction was proper because the Feldmans were unapproved subtenants and that they had changed a rug in the apartment without permission.

Eventually, the Feldmans surrendered their lease. However, they then retained counsel, ironically enough a firm that spends most of its time evicting people on behalf of landlords, and field suit. The suit consisted of the following claims: (1) retaliatory eviction, (2) negligence, (3) negligent misrepresentation, (4) breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment--tort and contract, (5) wrongful eviction, (6) breach of contract, and (7) unfair business practices (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200).

Upon receiving the complaint, Park Lane filed an anti-SLAPP motion. The trial court ruled in favor of Park Lane, as the appellate court noted, "The court found that all seven causes of action arose from Park Lane's right of petition, but that the Feldmans had failed to establish a probability of prevailing on the first cause of action only. It awarded the Park Lane cross-defendants their costs and attorney fees pursuant to section 425.16, subdivision (c), with the amount to be fixed pursuant to a noticed motion."

On appeal, the trial court's decision was upheld. The court held that all of the causes of action related to the landlord serving the notice and filing the complaint for unlawful detainer. The court even went so far as to state that,

The Feldmans argue that their breach of contract cause of action is not covered by the statute, because the activity of breaching the contract is separate and distinct from the protected activities identified above. We disagree. First, it is established that conduct alleged to constitute a breach of contract may also come within the statutory protections for protected speech or petitioning. (Navellier I, supra, 29 Cal.4th 82, 92; Midland Pacific Building Corp. v. King (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 264, 273.) We focus, as we must, {Slip Opn. Page 15} not on the label of the cause of action, but on Park Lane cross-defendants' activities challenged in the cross-complaint. The breach of contract claim contends that the Park Lane cross-defendants "breached the Addendum by the actions alleged herein, and by illegally evicting Levis from the premises, seeking thereby to deprive Cross-complainants of their contractual rights to occupancy of the premises." "The actions alleged herein" are Hawkins's threats, the service of the three-day notice, and the filing of the unlawful detainer action. The activities that allegedly breached the contract were the protected activities. The claim that the eviction was "illegal" because the Feldmans were lawfully in possession under the Addendum does not transform these protected activities into something different or independent. The breach of contract cause of action arose from protected activity.

Basically the court stated that even though there was a contract, and that the contract was breached by the landlord, the tenant has no means to bring an action in the court. Essentially, the service of the notice and/or complaint for unlawful detainer immunizes the landlords.

Let's see... the landlord can violate the terms of a contract and suffer... nothing if they have done something that could be deemed protected by the litigation privilege. Should the tenant violate the terms of the contract, they get served with a notice and most likely followed by a complaint for unlawful detainer with a serious chance of being evicted. Now, where is the equity in that?

Prior to Action Apartments, when a landlord did something like this, they would face a lawsuit for wrongful eviction. If they had done wrong, then the landlord would pay for it. The argument by the landlords' groups was that this was penalizing the small "mom and pop" landlords who were just renting some property and not legally savvy enough to know when they were breaking the law and that they should be protected. (And as a side note, I seem to remember being taught from a very young age that ignorance is not a defense under the law.)

Now we have law being interpreted in such a way that litigation privilege is now being used to oppress tenants who are being unlawfully evicted. Instead of the law being used to compel people to honor lawful agreements, it is now being used to protect the stronger party in an unequal relationship from having to face virtually an consequences for their wrongful acts!

Unfortunately, the way that the opinions have been written, the only redress seems to be the legislature. However, the way that the California legislature has been viewing landlord-tenant law lately, it seems unlikely that there will be any relief for tenants coming.

No regulation, no redress in the courts, and almost no chance of liability to being bad to your tenants... must be good to be a landlord right now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is This Really The Law Suit You Want To Bring?

I am wondering what was going through this guys mind. He is married. He apparently has a good job. May even have a kid. And he wants to file a lawsuit for this:

Getting a lap dance.

I wonder if his attorney has had him really think through what the line of question may or may not include.

Apparently Mr. Chang was getting a lap dance at Manhattan's Hot Lap Dance Club (NSFW link here). While the unnamed dancer was working on his lap (minds out of the gutter please) she apparently did a maneuver which caused her to kick him in the head in some way with her heel.

Now, I suppose he is filing suit against the club on a premises liability theory. But I would guess he is probably also going to have to sue the stripper herself, since she may be an independent contractor.

I can just imagine the deposition of Chang, the dancer, an the club owner. I just can not think of way of putting it up here and not coming off completely crass. But in the end, if this goes to trial, Mr. Chang is going to have to stand up before a bunch of people (as many as 12 jurors, the judge, the other court room personnel and possibly a bunch of curious on lookers) and talk about going to a strip club and then later claiming he got more than he paid for (minds out of the gutter!). For now he is getting the benefit of the Spitzer fall-out that his employers might not notice whats going on...

Of course, this all brings to my mind visiting the locus in quo and how well that worked out for my favorite fictional barrister's some-times friend, Claude Erskine-Browne.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It May Now Never Be Killed

Someone, in their infinite wisdom, has put the dreaded Bluebook up online. For those of you know of which I speak, no further explanation is needed.

The Bluebook was the bane of my existence in law school. Then to torment me more, I went to work in an office where part of the way to pass the time was to have arguments over what the proper citation format should be... and then going to the Bluebook to see who was right.

Now that its on the web, it can never go away! Arrrgh!

Part Two of This Season's Dancing With the Stars Start

1. Shannon Elizabeth... not Stacey Keibler, but something about her makes me think that she could learn to be better. Mrs. Angrybell's comment was simple, "Get some bigger boobs."

2. Monica Seles... Jonothan pulled a Tucker Carlson there. Good call not letting her dance for the first half of it. Seriously tho, this audience is smaller than your average Grand Slam final ... just use that concentration. Try grunting a few times... Mrs. Angrybell's comment "It could have sucked worse."

3. Marissa Janet Winokur... well it appears that the costumers had to pimp someone out (as Mrs. Angrybell noted "Usually its the girls that get skanked out.") there and it looks like its the guy in your partnership. On the other hand, she has personality and showman-ship, but I have to agree with Carrie and Bruno. Len, I have to disagree with since she seemed to be having trouble with the basics on this one. Mrs. Angrybell had this to say about this "I have no room to talk, but the thought on Tony's mind when he saw her was 'no lifts'." Alright, so Mrs. Angrybell may not be totally PC, but you have to admit, the look on Tony's face when he saw who his partner was .... was priceless. (And shame on people for not putting up video of her!!!)

4. Priscilla Presley... 62 and starting off like that, it makes up for the scary amount of plastic surgery that it looks like she has gone through. She just needs to get a lil more comfortable with performing. For a first week foxtrot, that standing O was deserved.

5. Kristi Yamaguchi... Fluid, grace and a lift! (Carrie Anne!!! I am so disappointed in you that you let it go.) She made Priscilla's dance look sloppy. Mark is probably thinking: this is my reward for being screwed by the viewers last season.

6. Marlee Matlin... She moved well. She stayed in rhythm. I just think she may end up having a problem with her partner.

"Gound-breaking double elimination"? Are we kidding? That is what passes for ground breaking?

Overall, I think the women look stronger than the guys this season. Kristi Yamaguchi looks like the early favorite to win it all in my opinion. From the guys, her strongest competition will be Jason Taylor... if anyone who is not a Miami Dolphins fan votes for him. Mario might, but he has some posture problems that may come back to haunt him. From the women, Kristi has to hope that Priscilla can't relax and that Shannon Elizabeth doesn't realize that she can dance.

Anyways, that's how I see it.

Dancing With The Stars - Delayed

So here are my thoughts on the first night of Dancing with the Stars:

1. How did Kym Johnson not end up with a groin pull from Penn yanking her all over the place?

2. Jason Taylor, you were robbed. Carrie, Bruno, what were you thinking giving Jason the same scores you gave to Cristian De La Fuente?

3. Cristian De La Fuente, yes you may be hot... you may be a pilot in the Chilean Air Force... you may be the next thing after sliced bread, but stop looking terrified out there. When Penn can look more at ease dancing, you have to rethink things. Besides, you have Cheryl Burke as your partner. She will frakking carry your worthless feet if you just let her call the shots.

4. Adam... yes, it is humiliating... but please... don't make it that humiliating. But at least you aren't Billy Ray.

5. Mario, you know why Karina had to get the surgery? You know why she had the shell shocked look last season? Right now she is thanking her stars that she has you. Please dont make her regret it.

6. Steve Guttenberg... all I can say is I think the Stonecutters are back at work. And stand up straight. That goes for Mario too come to think of it.

Overall, of the men, Taylor looks like he could be the cream of crop... if he isn't brought down by the judges not watching him. Mario is the male version of last season's Cheetah Girl.

Now I have to get through the tivo of the women.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Could This Be A Sign Of The Chronicle's Agenda?

So the headline reads "The Forgotten War" on today. And the article it leads to, written by Carl Nolte, seems to focus almost exclusively on the fact that there has been a lack of protests against the war.

Seems like the only time the Chronicle likes to print anything about the war in Iraq is to announce new death totals. I could be wrong. But then again, I tend to go to on a daily basis. Seems like the Chronicle only likes the war when it is something to rail against.

There are three options, in my opinion, when it comes to the war. First, support it by taking the position that it has be seen through to the end. Second, oppose it and demand an immediate removal of all U.S. troops. Third, try and work for something more positive that does not betray our soldiers or the people who we have, by our nation's actions, made our responsibility.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who is questioning who here?

Late tonight, I was clued into this over on the SOLOSEZ email list. The following is what appears to be the transcript of the examination of the defendant in the case of R v. Chrysler (not the car company) which was published in the Independent.

Counsel: What is your name?
Chrysler: Chrysler. Arnold Chrysler.
Counsel: Is that your own name?
Chrysler: Whose name do you think it is?
Counsel: I am just asking if it is your name.
Chrysler: And I have just told you it is. Why do you doubt it?
Counsel: It is not unknown for people to give a false name in court.
Chrysler: Which court?
Counsel: This court.
Chrysler: What is the name of this court?
Counsel: This is No 5 Court.
Chrysler: No, that is the number of this court. What is the name of this court?
Counsel: It is quite immaterial what the name of this court is!
Chrysler: Then perhaps it is immaterial if Chrysler is really my name.
Counsel: No, not really, you see because...
Judge: Mr Lovelace?
Counsel: Yes, m'lud?
Judge: I think Mr Chrysler is running rings round you already. I would try a new line of attack if I were you.
Counsel: Thank you, m'lud.
Chrysler: And thank you from ME, m'lud. It's nice to be appreciated.
Judge: Shut up, witness.
Chrysler: Willingly, m'lud. It is a pleasure to be told to shut up by you. For you, I would...
Judge: Shut up, witness. Carry on, Mr Lovelace.
Counsel: Now, Mr Chrysler – for let us assume that that is your name – you are accused of purloining in excess of 40,000 hotel coat hangers.
Chrysler: I am.
Counsel: Can you explain how this came about?
Chrysler: Yes. I had 40,000 coats which I needed to hang up.
Counsel: Is that true?
Chrysler: No.
Counsel: Then why did you say it?
Chrysler: To attempt to throw you off balance.
Counsel: Off balance?
Chrysler: Certainly. As you know, all barristers seek to undermine the confidence of any hostile witness, or defendant. Therefore it must be equally open to the witness, or defendant, to try to shake the confidence of a hostile barrister.
Counsel: On the contrary, you are not here to indulge in cut and thrust with me. You are only here to answer my questions.
Chrysler: Was that a question?
Counsel: No.
Chrysler: Then I can't answer it.
Judge: Come on, Mr Lovelace! I think you are still being given the run-around here. You can do better than that. At least, for the sake of the English bar, I hope you can.
Counsel: Yes, m'lud. Now, Mr Chrysler, perhaps you will describe what reason you had to steal 40,000 coat hangers?
Chrysler: Is that a question?
Counsel: Yes.
Chrysler: It doesn't sound like one. It sounds like a proposition which doesn't believe in itself. You know – "Perhaps I will describe the reason I had to steal 40,000 coat hangers... Perhaps I won't... Perhaps I'll sing a little song instead..."
Judge: In fairness to Mr Lovelace, Mr Chrysler, I should remind you that barristers have an innate reluctance to frame a question as a question. Where you and I would say, "Where were you on Tuesday?", they are more likely to say, "Perhaps you could now inform the court of your precise whereabouts on the day after that Monday?". It isn't, strictly, a question, and it is not graceful English but you must pretend that it is a question and then answer it, otherwise we will be here for ever. Do you understand?
Chrysler: Yes, m'lud.
Judge: Carry on, Mr Lovelace.
Counsel: Mr Chrysler, why did you steal 40,000 hotel coat hangers, knowing as you must have that hotel coat hangers are designed to be useless outside hotel wardrobes?
Chrysler: Because I build and sell wardrobes which are specially designed to take nothing but hotel coat hangers.

If it weren't for the fact that barrister is identified as Lovelace, I would be sorely tempted to think that it was "Soapy Sam" Ballard or Claude Erskine-Browne prosecuting with Sir Guthrie Featherstone, QC, presiding, and Horace Rumpole chortling from the junior barrister benches. And given that the alleged purloined items were hotel hangars (as in the ones that have no hooks) I would almost guess that Mr. Chrysler, if that is his real name, is a collateral relative of the Timson clan (those notable South London Villains who have kept Rumpole and his wife in luxuries such as Vim and Plonk).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let this be a lesson...

Periodically update your estate planning.

Apparently Heath Ledger wrote a will in 2003. He had it lodged according to Australian law.

Only one problem... he became involved with Michelle Williams and had a child with her in 2005.... and he did not update his will.

So when he died, his will still named as his heirs his parents and his sister. And his daughter would have gotten nothing.

Fortunately, Ledger's parents are mensches and have stated that they will make sure that his daughter, Mathilda, is taken care of and not cut out. Otherwise, it could have become an ugly court fight, as it sometimes does.

I Want A Yellow Card Shown On This Mother-Frakker Right Now!

I try to stay away from Britney Spears related stuff... except when it comes to the legal aspect of it. Over the weekend, I noticed that Britney Spears' father, Jaimie Spears, who is also her conservator, has instructed her lawyers to fight the legal bills incurred by Kevin Federline which were awarded by the judge in the case.

Now, thats not unusual. Especially in cases where the earning imbalance is probably as great as it is between Spears and Federline. Right now, Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan of Kaplan & Simon, has turned in a bill for approximately $500,000.00. Spears' camp is fighting this, claiming that Kaplan and his firm are only entitled to somewhere between $150,000.00 and $175,000.00.

Part of the reason for taxing the Federline's attorneys' fees is some of his spending habits. The one that is most frequently brought up in reports is how K-Fed tipped a waiter $2000.00 on a bill of $365.00. He ha also been spending a fair amount on jewelry, apparently as much as $20,000.00, leading the Spears' camp to claim that Federline may have more money than he is revealing.

All of this is kind of what should be expected from a Hollywood style divorce. No biggie.

But the part that drove me nuts when I read it was how Kaplan was defending his billing. Apparently, it is being reported that he is charging Federline $600/hour. Now Kaplan is quoted as saying, "When you have a case with monitored visitation, that is not a regular case." He also went on to state that the case consumed his entire attention and that he was not billing for any media time.

Huh? So for all the other family specialists out there whose clients have to go through Rally, or other programs like it, all have unusual cases? Good grief, this guy needs to get a reality check and stop being so-damned greedy. I'm an attorney and I can't imagine anyone's time being worth $600

Somehow, I bet if I looked, I would find a whole slew of time which would say something along the lines of "Develop strategy regarding..." [i.e. lawyer speak for (sometimes), I was thinking about this matter, but can't really think of any way to justify it since I was just thinking about it as opposed to actually moving the case forward.]. And I bet if I added up enough of those, it would cover all the media time in addition to what would normally be needed to actually prepare a case.

In my opinion, you take away all the media coverage and this is much like one of my own family cases (which G-d willing I will soon be done with). A ne'er-do-well husband. A mother with some mental issues. Kids caught in the middle. Truly extraordinary my [insert item here].

Is This Discrimination?

Supervisor constantly asks a work-related stupid question to the wrong the females on a team at work. Supervisor apparently asks work-related stupid questions to the appropriate males on the same team.

Discrimination? Discuss.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Ok. So I am putting this up so that Mrs. Angrybell does not take it upon herself to start blogging herself. I just don't think that I could handle it. I can see it now, all the stupid things I say... plus all the really geek-tastic things I like...

But enough about that...

So today a special strike force hit the Law Offices of the AngryBell. At around noon today, the office resembled:

In more than four hours of fierce windexing, pledging, and a lil old fashion paper tossing, the state of paper in the office has been brought under control. Over the next few days, the bulk of the closed files should be moved to their lovely new off-site storage facility.

Now, the confession part of all this is what my wife discovered. I have, to put it nicely, forgotten to cash some checks for work I have done. Some of the time its because I do not realize that I have gotten paid. Other times its because my office organization is ... well... unique in a fun and exciting way.

Then again, her rationale for why I am so bad with money is that I am more concerned with the intellectual challenge of being a lawyer rather than being a good businessman. Seeing as how I would like to buy a house someday, I think I need to get this business thing down a lil better.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Today's Announcement!!!

AngryBell is now Uncle AngryBell. That's right, my sister just gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl named Eleanor Rose. Of course, I am standing by the name I was first introduced to her as...


Mother, father, and baby are all doing well.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Warning: Ranting Begining Now

So, I am figuring that today, after dealing with the Alameda Court system, I have probably lost a few years off of my life. I rarely practice in Alameda County. The few times that I have been there, I have been defending against motions filed by other people against my clients.

Apparently, in order to file any sort of motion in civil case in Alameda County, one must have reservation. However, this requirement doesn't show up anywhere that I have been able to find in the local rules. (First to find the rule gets you the booby prize). The first place I can find this little requirement is if I go to the through a series of webpages and find the one dealing with the law and motion.

So then, in order to get the frigging reservation you have to track down a clerk. They ask you email them. Apparently, if the past 24 hours is anything to go by, they do not check the reservation request email very often. You can try calling the number that is listed on the website.... except that you will discover that that this is no longer the number and that there are three other numbers that you can try. But there is no guarantee that anyone will a) pick up the phone or b) that the number you are calling will necessarily get you to the right clerk.

(The last part was helpfully pointed out to me by one of the clerks I was finally able to track down who expressed their exasperation over the situation. They are tired of getting yelled at by irate attorneys who run afoul what I now call the "secret rules". According to him, he has been fighting with the IT department for months to get the website updated to reflect the new procedures)

Fortunately, having done a stint back in Delaware, where there really were secret rules (such as the rule that stated unpublished opinions had precedential value... its in an unpublished opinion) I can deal with this. But when no one is able to actually issue a fraking reservation number when you give them all the information in the first email....

And then its emails and telephone calls back and forth...

Working around some clerk's break schedule...

Which seems to mandate a break of a lunch hour more than hour and a half long followed twenty minutes later by a forty-five minute break....

And its the last possible day to file the motion because the other side has suddenly gone back on their agreement to extend time....

And the courier has an iron clad rule that nothing after 3:00 p.m. will be able to be filed on the court...

Things start getting a lil tense.

Fortunately, I got the document to the courier with about 90 seconds to spare.... about 90 seconds after the clerk finally stopped changing (really, you mean you want to give me another different number? because the one you just gave me was bad why?) the reservation number on me

I understand that the court needs to order its docket and prevent it from being overrun. But if you are going to control the docket, then why not tell people how to do it so they don't end up looking like this ...

...after the filing finally goes out the door. I cannot express how much I hate this system.

New Rule For Defending Depositions: DO NOT LAUGH

I just saw this story a few minutes ago. Apparently a Federal District Court judge has handed down a $29,000 sanction against a party and their attorney. The sanctions arose from the deposition of Aaron Wilder in the case of GMAC Bank v. HTFC Corp. During the deposition, the deponent (Mr. Wilder) was a wee bit out of control.

By wee bit, it appears that he was unwilling to give a straight answer to most of the questions, continually engaged in "hostile, uncivil, and vulgar conduct" including insulting the opposing counsel during the 12 hours of the deposition. According the judge's count, there were 73 uses of the F-bomb during the deposition. (Which if you think about it is only a little more than 6 per hour)

Now, the attorney himself was also hit by sanctions for his part in the deposition. The court found that he did nothing to control his client, but the part that jumped out at me was where the evidence of attorney encouraging/failing to control his client was when he "snickered".

Considering how many crazy clients I have... and how some of them act,... I am going to have to really reign in my snicker reflex. G-d knows I can't afford a $29,000 sanction.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Land Of Confusion

Let's see. I have a case set for trial on Friday.

It's another Unlawful Detainer case. I like them. They move fast. Not much time for screwing around, like some of the other cases I have.

Unlike many other UD cases, this one has nothing to do with money. Its a nuisance case, meaning that the landlord is alleging that my client is doing something that is interfering with the use and enjoyment of the property. My client denies for a number of reasons, none of which are relevant to what I am going to talk about now.

The Landlord's attorney, let's call him Mel, has a reputation, and not the kind that you want. When this all starts, not that long ago, I figured the problems being complained of are not something that should go to trial. The reason is not that I think its an automatic loser for my client, but because really this case never should have been filed if the people involved had sat down and acted like grownups.

And yet, I am getting paid on this one, so I should be thankful that the Landlord and Mel do not want to act like adults.

Anywho, after finally getting through to Mel, he says words to the effect of "Sure... we can work something out, let me take this back to my client". And so, I wait.

And wait. Until his client contacts my client. This annoys and angers my client who does not want to talk to the person who has drug them into court. And then Mel contacts me. And gives me a deadline of the next day to get back to him.

So I did. Only there was a slight snag with this. He has taken off for a long weekend and his office will not be open for a number of days. So I leave a message on his voice mail. And then I fax over a letter stating that the proposal is acceptable to my client, we just need to work out the nuts and bolts of what the full plan will be.

The next day, he writes a letter. In it, he states "Since you have not responded at all, we are withdrawing our offer and will not longer negotiate with your client." So here I am, a wee bit confused. In one hand, I hold letter and fax confirmation. In the other, my trusty phone which recorded when I called him.

And then Mel sets the case for trial. Part of me is wondering if he is just doing this for the billings on the case.

So, the rest of the week passes. He does not return calls or the letter I sent over to him. And I am now starting the trial prep on the case.

And of course he calls. On Friday. Just before 4 p.m., when I am sorting out nonesense with the court and can not answer the phone. He leaves a message, stating that he believes my client has begun taking actions which would have settled the case... had he not withdrawn the offer. Of course, thats what I think Mel has said because if you listened to the voicemail message, you'da sworn he was drunk. The only thing that I am certain of, is that he will call me on Monday.

I check with my client, on the off chance that he has struck a deal and failed to inform me of it. (Happens more often than it should in UD cases) My client tells me that he has not.

So... I am a little confused at this point. He has made an counter to our initial offer. Then made it impossible to talk with him. And then claimed that we never called/contacted him by the deadline.

Based on what I am hearing from other attorneys, I am getting the feeling that this guy is trying to sandbag me. Fine. So I go out and start subpoening witnesses and calling the city housing inspectors to figure out how big to make the check to get them to court. And then this joker calls me after 5:15 p.m., wondering why I am not accepting his offer.

What offer??!??!?!?!

And, my client, as of their rescission of the last offer, just wants to push through to trial. Should I be playing the reasonable one in this situation? Trying to talk my client back from going to trial?

Did I mention that the other side has failed to answer any of the discovery propounded on them? Discovery that includes a whole slew of admissions? Admissions that could be deemed admitted?

And Why Was This Not On My Calendar?

Apparently today is International Sex Workers' Rights Day, which is being celebrated in San Francisco.

Apparently I missed the rally.

I am almost surprised that it did not close the courts as some other "holidays" do.